12 April 2012 | imdb2-556-923983
Prophetic, disturbing,... but ultimately flawed.
The question on my mind after seeing The Shock Doctrine was whether ends justify means. Quite possibly, this is the question Klein wanted to be asked, because much of her case regards the distasteful means taken in order to further free market economics, tactics which the very proponents of these dogmas may feel they want to disassociate themselves with. However, my question was about Klein's/Winterbottom's own tactics.
The film uses all methods that we've grown used to from modern politics: cherry-picked facts, "proofs" by emotionally-charged metaphors, hinted claims of guilt by association, sound-bite slogans that are repeated incessantly, and, of course, scare tactics. Sad to say, I've come to expect these things from political candidates that need to make their points in a 30-second TV appearance. I've even come to expect them in rating-seeking news programs. But have we stooped so low that these tactics are now par-for-the-course in documentaries, where a film-maker has 90 minutes of canvas to make a clear, compelling, and well-argued case? I happen to agree with Klein's stance that extreme capitalism is dangerous, and I think what we are seeing in both Europe and China in recent years (e.g. the collapse of Chinese nation-wide education and health policies) are just further proofs of the narrative Klein forwards. However, I don't see that there is a well-argued case here that would convince someone claiming that any change, good or bad, rarely happens in a peaceful way, or that the ultimate outcome of privatization is better than the alternative. In fact, only a handful of minutes of this film are devoted to the question of what the final outcome of extreme capitalism looks like, historically, and these minutes are full of unsubstantiated claims thrown into the air in what is exactly the tactic Klein warns against: shock a person for just over an hour, and suddenly that person becomes much more open to suggestion, at which point you can sprinkle some of your favorite dogmas on him.
So, perhaps this film does a good job with all those who are willing to be convinced by visceral arguments, the likes of which have, unfortunately, come to dominate the public discourse, but I rather promote those who educate people to think. Scaring people to make the choices you think are right... well, that's what this film is all about. Isn't it?